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Miyakojima Matsuri (Japanese Festival)

Matsuri (祭り)is the Japanese word for festival, and here in Miyajima (a small island near Okinawa) there are a lot of them. Miyako matsuri is a matsuri held for the celebration of summer and to officially acknowledge the new “Miss Miyako”.  There is also a carrying of an omikoshi (a portable shrine carried on the shoulder of a group of participants) as well as a tsunahiki (tug-o-war). I participated in the tsunahiki and my hands are still sore. We unfortunately lost 1-2. Once the event is over everyone scrambles to cut up the rope and take some home. The rope is considered good luck, regardless of whether you won or lost. If you are in Japan and have a chance to take part in a festival, go for it. They are a lot of fun. Here are some of the pictures from the event.

Hula girls in Miyakojima

Hula girls in Miyakojima

carrying the shrine

Carrying the shrine

Miss Miyako

Miss Miyako

Japanese tug of war

Japanese tug o war

more tug of war shots

Anoher tsunahiki shot

And lastly, here is a video from one of the pulls

Japanese Words List

  • Festival-まつり
  • Portable Shrine-おみこし
  • Tug-o-war-つなひき

5 Tips to Make Studying Japanese Easier

In the last post I talked about the importance of frequency of study when learning Japanese. The more often you study, the quicker you will learn Japanese. The easier it is for you to study, and to get at your study materials, the more likely it is that you will actually sit down and study. Below are a few tips to keep your Japanese study materials handy and make sure you don’t skip your study sessions.

  • Keep your materials out- It is always good to be tidy and put things away. However, if your study materials are not in plain view then you will be less likely to studying. Out of site out of mind. Find a place to store them that is in view and easy to get to.
  • Study reminders- I have found it best to designate a specific time each day to study. To make sure you don’t forget, set up various reminders. This can be as simple as leaving a post it note where you will constantly see it (on your computer or refrig) or setting up alarms on your cell phone or calendar.
  • Minimize your study Materials- I love to collect Japanese study materials. I felt the more materials that I had the more I would learn. The problem is that when you get too many you don’t know where you should start and what you should study. Not knowing where to start can keep you from not starting at all. Keep your study and your materials very simple and it will be easier to get started (and to finish).
  • Enjoy your study time- Try to have fun while you are studying and don’t take it “too” serious”. If you enjoy the time you study Japanese you will be a lot more likely to continue studying without missing a study period. Also, don’t forget to give yourself small rewards when you complete your goals. Rewarding yourself for finishing  is a great way to help enforce new habits.
  • Start now- If you are thinking that you need to create a good study schedule or to get back on track, then there is no better time to start than now. Starting now puts you on track and doesn’t let you forget about it.

In the beginning you may find it difficult to keep to a frequent schedule, but the longer you maintain it the easier it gets. And of course the more often you study the easier you will retain the Japanese words and phrases and the Japanese characters you are learning.

Remembering Japanese Words And The Importance Of Frequency

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This post will be very short since I have made this point a coupe of time. I will make it again however, because how often you study is an important part of learning Japanese and especially remembering Japanese words quickly.

In the last few months I have been learning to play the sanshin (shamisen in mainland Japan). Over the last few weeks I haven’t had the chance to play much due to a number of friends visiting on vacation. After not playing for just a couple of days, the instrument feels strange in my hand. I can’t hit the chords smoothly and I have to make a consious effort to play.

Now if I pick it up, even for 5 minutes a day and play, each time I get a little better and it doesn’t feel foeign to me. This is the same thing with Japanese. It is better to study 10 minutes each day (preferably more) than 2 hours only once a week. To really learn the Japanese language and the words you need to use them often. Deciding a “set time” usually work best for me, but do what works best for you. The important thing is that you study everyday!

Watching YouTube In Japanese

Since the weekend is almost here, there is plenty of time to sit in front of the computer watching YouTube videos. Why not turn this little activity into Japanese learning time as well. Setting up your YouTube page to easily find Japanese videos and even read Japanese is very simple and can easily be changed back at any time.

1. Open up YouTube

2. In the upper left hand corner you should see a language and a region setting.  The left is the region (where you want to see videos from) and the right is the language you want to view the page in.

youtube screenshot.png

3. To view videos from Japan, simply click on the left link (it probably reads “wordwide” or has your specific region) and change it to Japanese. If you want to get a little more Japanese practice, then you can also switch the page language to Japanese as well.

Japanese YouTube.png

4. Don’t forget to use Firefox and to turn on Rikaichan to make reading the page easy!

Samurai-Why I Love Japan

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I have loved martial arts since I was a small child. I even had karate gi pajamas. My love for the martial arts was what originally brought about my interest in Japan and the Japanese language.  So, when I came across this video on Twitter, I just had to share. The show is called “Best House” and this segment is about a very talented sword master cutting all kinds of stuff with precision. The video even has English subtitles. Here it is..

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